Does anyone have any tips for polishing pattern sheet or any etched
sheet? I have used some of the pattern sheet previously with a smaller
pattern on it and had no trouble getting a good finish with good
contrast of polished high spots and oxidized background. The pattern I
am using currently is a bigger more open pattern. I am having some
trouble getting a good finish and it has an overall grey appearance. I
suspect I should be using a harder felt wheel that would not dip down
into the recesses so much. But I am not sure. I certainly don’t want
to over polish and wear down the nice pattern. Any tips or ideas?
Thanks so much- Carrie Nunes
Does anyone have any tips for polishing pattern sheet or any etched
I’ve had pretty good success with those foam bars and files used for
finishing acrylic nails. They’re available from a beauty supply house
and department stores in the cosmetic sections. Also, what works well
are the 3M finishing wheels from Rio and others. They come in pretty
colors denoting their grits, but mostly they have enough firmness to
them because of the binder material to prevent gouging in recessed
areas. The fibers on even hard felts and muslins seemed to fuzz the
pattern too much for my taste, especially for those ones that are very
detailed. Hope it helps.
Carrie and all, I am not sure I have a solution to your problem but
when I hear gray, purple or copper looking silver I think of fire
scale. Fire scale forms on sterlin g when ever it is soldered.
There are products on the market that are specially formulated to
prevent fire scale during soldering. One is called Cupronil. It is
available through Rio Grande, 800-545-6566, Indian Jewelry Supply,
505-800-7496, Thunderbird Jewelry Supply, 505-722-4323. Gessein,
203-366-5400, has a product but dont know what they call it. Cupronil
is also a solder flux, however I find I have better results using a
dab of paste flux between pieces to be soldered. The paste flux wil l
wash away some of the fire coat preventative. This will result in a
band of fire scale forming where ever the Cupronil was washed away.
Do not over do the past flux. For best results prepolish the silver
before soldering. Coat all surface s with Cupronil then solder. I
have also found that fire coat may some times be present on sheet
stock before soldering. How that gets there is beyond me.
good luck and say a few choice words before soldering to keep the
gremlins away. Lee
Carrie, the best way I’ve found to polish pattern sheet, etched or
embossed, is in a tumbler. First run the piece in a mild abrasive
(Rio Aqua cones for example) in a vibratory tumbler. Then run in a
rotary tumbler with steel, for 45 to 60 minutes. If there are
largish flat plain areas that are “orange peel” looking, you can
finish in wood chips and simichrome for 36 to 48 hours. Voila - the
pattern is intact, the polish is perfect, and the shop gremlins have
been productive for a change.
Judy Hoch - in Denver with the biggest batch of roses I’ve ever grown.
Dear Judy: The last time I used the vibratory tumbler to polish
pattern sheet, I ended up with all those tiny grooves filled with
polishing residue that dried as hard as cement. I did not see the
embedded residue until after the pieces (A LOT of them!) were rinsed
and dried. Toothbrushing, soaking, solvents, etc., would not remove
it. Only manual scratching out of every little line would work, and
there was far too much texture to consider that option. I ended up
dyeing the grey residue with black permanent marker! The effect was
nice, but certainly not what I originally intended. I believe I was
using the Rio aqua cones; if not, it was something similar. I have
not dared to use the tumbler since on any etched material; and it
would be great to use it. I’m doing more and more etching. I have a
large series approaching that point (of finishing decision) now. What
would you suggest? Do you think it was just the drying that hardened
the residue to the point of irremovability? Have you experienced
residue in the grooves, and if so, how did you remove it? I don’t
have an ultrasonic. I don’t have a rotary tumbler either, but am
considering one if I can decide on which one to buy. I would only be
using it for stainless steel shot. (I keep hearing nightmare stories
about the tumbler turning silver black, etc., that is delaying my
purchase) I used a rotary in school with no problems. I was told I
could use my vibratory for steel shot, but it doesn’t work. The steel
is too heavy. It just rolls around the bottom, and the work pieces
roll around the top.
Dear Judy: The last time I used the vibratory tumbler to polish pattern sheet, I ended up with all those tiny grooves filled with polishing residue that dried as hard as cement.
Sounds like you need to clean your shot.
All that ever goes into my tumbler except the stuff being tumbled is
about 2 oz of household ammonia & a pinch of burnishing soap. I’ve
never had a problem with dirty pieces coming out. When the shot gets
grungy looking, it gets washed off in warm water & returned to the
tumbler. Been using the same shot for over 10 yrs.
This is what I ended up with to polish things - it works great on
etched items… I read that little book that Judy Hoch wrote (I
believe she’s on this list too… it’s a great little book if you’re
unsure how to go with things) - available from Rio…
I have a fairly large rotary tumble - I picked it up at a garage sale
for $5.00 and decided that to fill it with stainless steel shot (this
is a must if you’re not a tidy/ pedantic/ type) would cost a
fortune… so I purchased two smaller barrels that fit onto the one
large motor spindles… then I usually run the aqua and solution in
one of them (mildly abrasive) and then the stainless shot and solution
in the other… at the same time
I also purchased a cheap vibratory tumbler from a Gun catalog place
(someone suggested it- they have an online site - Natchez shooters I
think - now I keep getting NRA info and hunting catalogs - grrr). I
have walnut shells and polish for the vibratory tumbler which couldn’t
take the shot and doesn’t have a clean through type system), but I
have to say that the shot does such an excellent job that I haven’t
used the vibratory part of the process… I’m thinking of using it for
items with bezels though (and skipping the shot stage) as the shot
makes the bezels so hard that I can’t work them afterwards…
Anyway… I clean everything off between each stage and also
purchased a second hand ultrasonic to help with that - if you let
stuff dry on… well, you found out the hard way…
All that ever goes into my tumbler except the stuff being tumbled is about 2 oz of household ammonia & a pinch of burnishing soap. I've never had a problem with dirty pieces coming out. When the shot gets grungy looking, it gets washed off in warm water & returned to the tumbler. Been using the same shot for over 10 yrs.
Dave - I have never added ammonia with the burnishing soap. Does that
clean better? I tumble silver and gold chains. Enlighten me,
I use a little vibratory tumbler from a gun shop and use stainless
steel shot in it with no problems. However, I don’t produce a lot and
so don’t overload it with items. Perhaps you are also using too much
shot for the size of the tumbler. The size of the items might be too
big as a well. I have noticed that larger pins just ride the top of
the the shot.
Dear Dave: Clarification: I wasn’t using shot. I was using abrasive
media, which contains some kind of quartz powder in a carrier of
plastic. It does produce a residue, which has to be washed off
thoughly before drying and storing the media. The media wears down a
little with each load run, leaving a sludge or slurry. I dump the
tumbler load into a strainer and rinse both media and workpieces,
then separate and wash both again as many times as necessary. It’s
really a kind of pre-polish cycle.
I agree that steel shot should not produce residue (unless you’re an
awful slob), since it’s peening and burnishing, rather than
polishing. Having once worked in a research lab with dead animals and
noxious chemicals, I’m an obsessive washer of everything (at least
everything work-related). I see contamination everywhere.
In the case I mentioned with the etched pieces, the lines were so
fine I never noticed that the sludge had settled into the lowest
parts. I had scrubbed, as usual, with a toothbrush during rinsing. A
wet dark line looks like a wet dark line. I speculate that the sides
and bottom of the etched lines had a micro-texture that held the
particulate sludge. Not until it dried a lighter color (medium grey)
did I realize that the lines were not clean.
Someday when I have time I might exploit this effect…call it “easy
I have never added ammonia with the burnishing soap. Does that clean better? I tumble silver and gold chains.
I also trumble lots of chains (other things too). I use a small
vibratory tumbler with about 7#s of assorted shapes of shot. Many of
the chains are brand new, just out of the pickle & neutralizing
solution. I don’t know if it’s my imagination or not, but when I used
about 2 oz of water instead of the ammonia, the finish didn’t seen as
All I can say with certainty is; it works for me!
Hello, Marilyn raises a good thought so far as overloading the
tumbler with shot (or anything else for that matter). I’ve noticed
that many times, I get faster results with less media when tumbling
only a few items (using a rotary tumbler). Judy Hoch, could you jump
in here? Judy in Kansas
I use a little vibratory tumbler from a gun shop and use stainless steel shot in it with no problems. However, I don't produce a lot and so don't overload it with items. Perhaps you are also using too much shot for the size of the tumbler. The size of the items might be too big as a well. I have noticed that larger pins just ride the top of the the shot.
Judy M. Willingham, R.S.
Biological and Agricultural Engineering
237 Seaton Hall
Kansas State University
Manhattan KS 66506